Time To Reboot

What do cars, cell phones, and computers have in common? They are all products of technology which I use every day but with only the vaguest idea of how they work or how to fix them if they break. Generally speaking, when any of these items malfunctions, I need to turn to an expert in order to resolve the problem. With one exception.

On occasion in the past, when my computer started slowing down, freezing up, showing error messages, or doing other goofy things, I have been able to correct the problem by turning the machine off, waiting a few seconds, then turning it on again—what computer people call a reboot.

A reboot clears out the computer’s memory and otherwise restores the operating system to a condition in which it is free from extraneous data of various forms which accumulate during normal usage. It doesn’t create a blank slate, but it gets rid of “digital detritus” which can electronically gum up the works and prevent the machine from doing its job most effectively and efficiently.

I believe that, for the Anglican Church in North America, it is time for a reboot.

Not a major overhaul. The American Anglican community has experienced that already, beginning around 1999, when the Archbishop of Rwanda consecrated missionary bishops for ministry in the US, and culminating in 2009 with the formation of the ACNA and the investiture of Archbishop Robert Duncan. I applaud the courage and the vision which such a step of faith required. I am an Anglican today because God providentially brought me to this communion at this moment in its history. Had the Episcopal Church been the only portal into Anglicanism open to me, I would never have been confirmed (not to mention ordained) as an Anglican.

I love my new ecclesiastical home. I want to see it flourish and grow. I want others to find what I have found in Anglicanism. For that to happen on a grand scale, however, I believe we need to reboot—to clear out some old thinking which could (and I believe will) impede our progress and distract us from the goal of advancing the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Chiefly, we need to remind ourselves that we are not the Episcopal Church and that the “denominational realignment” of those parishes which were formerly part of TEC must involve more than merely a new name on the church sign. Unlike TEC, which is not known for aggressive church planting and is made up mainly of well-established parishes and a fairly affluent membership, the ACNA is a pioneer movement with a missionary impetus.

Archbishop Duncan has issued a challenge to plant 1000 new ACNA churches by 2014. It is a worthy goal and in the best interests of all of us orthodox Anglicans to see that goal accomplished and to do everything we can to make it a reality. Many new “church plants” have already been undertaken, but the only way those new plants, and others yet to come, will take root and grow into healthy, productive churches is for larger, older, more well-established parishes to help nourish and cultivate those infant churches until they achieve self-sufficiency. This will likely require a sense of stewardship which is willing to trim local aspirations in order to share resources in service to a higher goal, namely advancement of the Gospel.

The Archbishop’s vision will only become a reality when every ACNA diocese adopts a “missionary mindset” and every parish embraces a “growth by extension as well as expansion” ethos. The ACNA must be characterized by cooperation and sacrificial sharing, not by competition and turf wars. We’re all in this together to bring glory to God and to raise up communities of faith that proclaim and embody the grace, mercy, and love of Christ.

It is a new day for Anglicanism in America. The opportunities are great, but so are the challenges. This is not a time for “business as usual.” It’s time to reboot.

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2 thoughts on “Time To Reboot

  1. Good thought, Eric. Repetition in a positive mode, frequently and by all in authority will be needed to change the mindset! Also, when there are more diocesan events everywhere, where the people in the “new” parishes can interface with the people in the old TEC parishes, the enthusiasm can become contagious. If people just bound the church by the parish borders, it with be same-old, same-old for a much longer time!

  2. I applaud your perception and your courage, Fr. Eric. A call to realignment in thinking, if answered enthusiastically, will launch ACNA into a place of significant leadership in the Kingdom of God.

    Putting the furtherance of the gospel ahead of all other concerns will be difficult, but not impossible. It will mean that laity and clergy alike will need to set aside selfish comforts and embrace a new lifestyle, both corporately and personally. Missionary-minded Christians cannot sit back and feather their own nests at the expense of failing to support the planting of new churches.

    The truth is the former Episcopal congregations that have formed the ACNA harbor great wealth. Over time past, they had become quite complacent and inward-focused. Their buildings required much of their resources to maintain. And also, over time, the clergy came to enjoy inflated salaries and benefits comparable to corporate executives in the private sector. These factors, added to a limited outward, missionary-minded focus, placed those churches in the backseat of Kingdom significance.

    But now, it’s a new day. Great opportunity looms on the horizon. The Archbishop has set a very aggressive goal. The question remains, “Will the people of God in the ACNA rise up to this challenge?”

    It will likely require an about-face with regard to the way stewardship is viewed in every congregation. The laity will need to make sacrificial giving the norm. Those whose giving has never approached a tithe will need to reevaluate their priorities and dig deeper into their wallets and purses. The clergy will need to examine their own lifestyles to determine if they have followed the pattern of the world and become too used to salaries that burden their congregations and stand as roadblocks to a missional mindset.

    Making the transition from inward-focus to outward-focus is difficult, but not impossible. I sense your call to reboot as a word from the Lord. I know the Anglicans who have gathered to form the ACNA love God. I know they will open their hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit in this matter. I believe that in determined obedience, once they have heard this call to reboot, they will do so.

    As God draws His people in the ACNA ever closer to Himself each week through the celebration of the Eucharist, surely they will respond with enthusiasm and celebration to the Archbishop’s challenge. By learning how to place the needs of the Kingdom of God ahead of any other personal or corporate needs, they will be able to give generously and pray fervently for those who are striving to plant new churches.

    May the people of God in the ACNA shine like the stars during this next critical decade. The Kingdom of God is at hand. The harvest is plentiful. God is raising up workers to bring in that harvest. Each believer within the ACNA can significantly impact the work of the Kingdom.

    I pray that Anglicans will heed your wise counsel. Perhaps you will continue in future blog posts to flesh out a strategy for moving forward.

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